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Education & the Environment - EDU00054I

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  • Department: Education
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Lynda Dunlop
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

In a time of unprecedented environmental crisis, affecting all of humanity, how can education bring about real global and local change? This interdisciplinary module will draw on literary, philosophical and scientific approaches to explore the relationships between education, people, nature, the environment and sustainability. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

“No-one will protect what they don’t care about; and no-one will care about what they have never experienced.”  David Attenborough.

We are living at a time of unprecedented environmental crisis. Climate change, pollution, deforestation and degradation of the land are no longer vague threats on the horizon; they already affect the quality of life, worldviews and existential choices of a majority of the Earth’s population. It is now clear that if crucial changes are not made urgently, humans and many other species will, in the very short term, cease to exist in their current state.

In this context, how can education effect real change? How can it help young people understand fully those questions, and the ways in which they will shape their future? The debate is so heated, and the issues so pressing, that creating the conditions for rational discussion and informed decision-making is a challenge in itself. In this interdisciplinary module, we draw on literary, philosophical and scientific approaches to explore the relationship between education and nature, the environment and sustainability, globally as well as locally.  

The module will develop students' conceptual knowledge about nature, the environment and sustainability in relation to contexts and theories of education, both formal and non-formal/informal. Through this, it will also strengthen students' analytic, creative and critical skills. There will also be a focus on praxis, through which students will gain experience and understanding of graduate-level skills in the enactment of theory in educational practice.

Module learning outcomes

This module will build on learning from Stage 1 (most notably Key Concepts of Education; What is Education?; Critical and Creative Approaches to English).  You will be able to

  • Demonstrate conceptual knowledge that allows you to comment on research and devise and sustain arguments, in relation to nature, the environment and sustainability (NES) through weekly reading and response tasks.
  • Use scientific, literary and philosophical approaches to analyse NES and develop educational practices in relation to NES.
  • Relate educational theory and the contexts of schooling to young people to Nature, the environment and sustainability
  • Examine and/or write texts for young adults based around nature and observation
  • Make links between STEM subjects, arts, humanities and key concepts such as space, place and identity.
  • Critically reflect on the status of nature, the environment and sustainability in school curricula.
  • Appreciate uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge about nature, the environment and sustainability, and gain experience of educational practices that bring these to the fore.

Module content

The module will be taught weekly through lectures, practical workshops and independent reading.  There will be regular reading tasks with which you will be expected to engage, and you will need to draw on your understanding of texts in class discussion.  You will also have the opportunity to participate in, plan and carry out educational interventions in and about nature, the environment and sustainability, including for example contributions to World Philosophy Day and One Planet Week.

The module content will address and integrate

  • Socio-historical foundations of education about NES
  • Philosophical approaches to education about NES - philosophy for children
  • Literary approaches to education about NES - ecocriticism, creative writing
  • Scientific approaches to education about NES - observation, modeling, field work; emergent science and controversy
  • Praxis: principles of planning; reflective practice; practical approaches to education in and about NES


Task Length % of module mark
Essay: Analysis of practice related to NES
N/A 67
Essay: Critical response to a text about NES
N/A 33

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Reassessment will be at the component level.

Formative assessment will be through a range of small tasks distributed across the autumn and spring terms, including guided reading/response tasks. These will give frequent feedback to students and lecturers about student learning progression in relation to the module intended learning outcomes. . 


Task Length % of module mark
Essay: Analysis of practice related to NES
N/A 67
Essay: Critical response to a text about NES
N/A 33

Module feedback

Individual written feedback reports with follow-up tutor discussion if necessary. The feedback is returned to students in line with university policy. Please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

Indicative reading

Macfarlane, R., & Morris J. (2018). The lost words. London: Hamish Hamilton.

Nixon, R. (2011). Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Harvard University Press.

Lewis, L., & Chandley, N. (Eds.). (2012). Philosophy for children through the secondary curriculum. A&C Black.

Braund, M., & Reiss, M. (2012). Learning science outside the classroom. Routledge.

Garrard, G. (2004). Ecocriticism. Routledge.

Kerridge, R., & Sammells, N. (1998). Writing the Environment: Ecocriticism and literature. Zed Books.

Bigger, S., & Webb, J. (2010). Developing environmental agency and engagement through young people’s fiction. Environmental Education Research16(3-4), 401-414.

Danks, F., & Schofield, J. (2006). Nature's playground: activities, crafts and games to encourage children to get outdoors. Frances Lincoln ltd.

Souter, N. (2007). Phenology and real science. School Science Review89(326), 45

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.